Ron Wilson voted out of office

So glad to see that Ron Wilson, the chief Democratic party turncoat in the Texas Redistricting battle, was voted out after 27 years in the Texas legislature. Wilson was outvoted by Alma Allen, a member of the State Board of Education.
Wilson was the arch-villain in the EFF-Austin and ACLU-TX Cyberliberties battle against the SDMCA, the bill sponsored by the Motion Picture Association that gave internet service and content providers broad control over what users can do with their net connection.
When we went to his office to try and talk about the bill, Wilson’s staff sent us directly to the MPAA lobbyists, do not pass go. No, they did not want to hear citizen concerns about the bill, yes you need to talk to the MPAA lobbyist in DC.
At least Wilson was consistent in his ethical stance. He was one of the leaders of an unsuccessful attempt to block an ethics reform bill last session with campaign disclosure and anti-conflict of interest provisions.
So glad voters noticed and sent Wilson home.

Orkut lets you dissect your friendships

Orkut has a new “feature” that lets you define gradations of friendship. But who’s going to keep this up to date as relationships evolve?
The Orkut friendship gamut runs as follows: haven’t met; acquaintance; friend; good friend; best friend.
So, when I spend more time getting to know acquaintances at SXSW, am I going to upgrade those “aquaintances” to “friends”? After a particularly loyal action or intimate conversation, am I going to upgrade a “friend” to “good friend.”
What about downgrading? What amount of distance merits downgrading a “best friend” to a “good friend.”
Orkut started as a fun friend-collecting game, but this new friend-grading scheme is pretty pointless.
The joys of friendship are in the nuances, the facets of play and affection and trust that build and transform relationships over time.

Traction didn’t buy a “Ross Mayfield” ad

In comments below, Jordan Frank of Traction Software says that they never took out Google ads for “SocialText” or “Ross Mayfield.”
Thanks for letting us know, and I apologize for the misunderstanding; still have no idea what quirk of the Google algorithm got Traction ads on Ross’ Flickr profile.
– Adina

Feds subpoena war protester records

from the link pile… the feds subpoena student war protester records, and issue a gag order preventing the school from talking about it. What country do we live in?

A federal judge has ordered Drake University to turn over all records for students who attended a November 15th forum for anti-war activists. Representatives of the Lawyer’s Guild, the organization that sponsored the forum, and the American Civil Liberties Union said they had not heard of such a subpoena being served on any U.S. university in decades; the activists targeted with subpoenas say that investigators are trying to link them to a librarian at a peace rally who was charged with resisting arrest. A source says the judge has issued a gag order forbidding the school from discussing the subpoenas.

Salon via

Autonomic Social Networks

An intriguing-sounding but broken idea blogged by Judith Meskill on autonomic social networks.
The post applies ideas about self-healing computer networks — networks that automatically detect and detour around or repair damage — to our social and knowledge networks. Meskill quotes Christopher Meyer, coauthor of It’s Alive: The Coming Convergence of Information, Biology, and Business, “When we become adept at applying these insights to the social sphere, we’ll be able to run simulations that reveal, say, the conditions under which Iraq would reconstruct itself.”
A computer network goes down when a node stops routing packets. A human network is damaged when trust breaks down; when people feel hurt, afraid, and angry; and the group doesn’t have the will or the skill to repair the harm. It’s possible to heal human networks, but it’s a lot harder than swapping out a router.
The US government replaced Richard Nixon as president when his team was caught covering up election dirty tricks, but the distrust of government lasted for a generation. The “damaged node” was replaced, but the network didn’t “self-heal.”
Comparing humans to network nodes sounds intriging but is misleading.

Tools for Radicals

I’ve been running a slow burn at the Shirky thesis that social software killed Dean. Today, I read this Washington Post article on the implosion of the Dean Campaign while working on a piece about tools for online activism.
Disgruntled campaign exes spilled the beans about the divisions between Dean’s protective chief aide Kate O’Connor and Joe Trippi, the charismatic leader of the online troups; Trippi’s weaknesses as an operational manager; and the campaign’s inexperience with the national media.
The article re-inforces my impression that the Dean Campaign lost on basic execution. The internet took the campaign farther than it would have otherwise gone. But winning requires traditional campaign chops too.
Clay Shirky contends that Dean lost because of the internet. Deluded supporters poured out their feelings in blog comments, and had nothing left to give on election day.
Clay is thinking like an analyst, not an activist. Here’s the relevant question. If Clay wanted to:
* get a candidate elected
* get legislation passed, or stopped
* have a local administrator change a policy
Would he use internet tools as part of the organizing effort, to get the word out, find like-minded people, and co-ordinate action.
If the answer is yes, then it’s reasonable to conclude that internet activism was a partial success. It’s part of the solution, though it’s dangerous to conclude that it is the whole thing.
If Clay isn’t thinking about what it takes to win an election or an issue advocacy campaign, I don’t think the opinion is relevant. I love Clay’s writing, and think he is devilish smart, but I think he is missing the point.